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Monday, February 28, 2011

Hussalonia Song # 24: That’ll Be The Day

Now, this is a change of pace! Hussalonia is in rare form on this track, and I do mean rare! The Hussalonia Founder's voice is different too, it doesn't even sound like the same person! Amazing!

This is a really nice, smooth little rock ' n' roll number, in which the narrator sings about the unlikelihood of his girlfriend or wife ever actually following up on her threats to leave him. Despite the potentially emotional subject matter, the song sounds very upbeat and lighthearted, and it is easy to just rock out to it. Really, the difference from the usual Hussalonia sound is just so impressive, I can't even belie- wait, what? Hold on a second, my producer is handing me a note here. I…what? The wrong track? What is he talking about, the wrong track? That's the title, right there! That'll Be The Day, it says it right there in digital black and white! See? That'll Be The Day by Budd…oh. Oh. Well…never mind. I'll just start this one over.

The Hussalonia track titled "That'll Be The Day" is in fact a 26 seconds-long bit of sound collage with drums and crowd noise. Now, when writing about sound collage previously on this blog, I've used it as an occasion to do some free-form writing. However, in that case, the track was roughly 8 minutes long. At 26 seconds, I can't really do that here. It takes me a few seconds longer than that to write a sentence sometimes. So what to do?

I don't mean to imply that the track is unpleasant, but I confess that I can't think of a great deal to say about it. It makes for a nice opening for the album; it actually sounds like a bit of warm-up before a concert begins, which is a fitting way for an album to start. It brings back "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" memories. Perhaps the best way for me to write about this track is to mirror it and simply use this entry as an introduction to the album, and my writings about it, as well.

The official description of this album on The Hussalonia Internet Concourse contains the following statement: "Charles Hardin Hussalonia is a love letter to the pop song convention, a subversive songwriter reveling in a guilty pleasure." I'd like to begin with a few thought on creative projects that are "guilty pleasures."

Hearing that phrase used about something implies a sort of shame or regret. Obviously, when one feels "guilt," it is presumed that one is doing something that one ought not to do. I do not think that anything on this album is worth regretting or feeling guilty for; it really makes for a wonderful listening experience. For a long time it was for me "the last" Hussalonia album. After stumbling onto "The Public Domain EP" in early 2009, I acquired as much Hussalonia material as I could. At the time, "The Somewhat Surprising Return of the Hussalonia Robot Singers" was the last album released, and though I had confirmation that Hussalonia was alive and well, I had no knowledge if new music was forthcoming, and throughout that year I was left to wonder if I'd stumbled onto something great just after it had ended. I'm thankful that such was not the case. However, at the time, all I could do was explore the excellent material available for free online and also the few CDs that were still for sale. If memory serves, I bought all the physical CDs that were still being sold at CD Baby first, as I tend to prefer hard copies of things in most cases. Finally, after that, I got "Ernest Evans Hussalonia" and, at last, "Charles Hardin Hussalonia." As it was the last Hussalonia album I hadn't heard, I saved my first listen up for my usually annual beach vacation that year. It made for an excellent summer day listening, and I'll continue to have fond memories of it as the ocean sped past me in the midday sun. It was a lovely time, and the kind of songs that appear on this album make for such perfect summer listening in most locations. It really is a great album, and if creating it was a guilty pleasure, then I wouldn't mind indulging in some such guilty pleasures myself, at least if I could produce something of the quality of this album as a result.

I've mentioned on this blog a few times a children's fiction series I've been writing since, oddly enough, 2009. It has become a massive project now; it began as a one-off project written as a favor for a friend. It began for me as a "guilty pleasure." In some ways I still feel that it is. I don't like to admit that I enjoy writing it (well, in the spirit of full disclosure, writing it can always be very painful for long periods of time) and I don't like to claim I enjoy writing the romance in it. When I say I don't like it, I'm not really lying, but then in another sense I'm not telling the truth either. To be honest, a part of me just loves writing about little furry animals that can talk growing up and having adventures, loves writing about awkward humans my age falling in love and having wonderful, romantic experiences that I have never had and probably never will and probably don't really even want, loves big epic storylines where all the good guys get to be heroes and the bad guys get to get their butts kicked, loves exciting chase scenes and madcap races against the clock and cute things and people that hug each other and love each other and learn that in their own hearts all is right after all.

Part of me loves every last blasted part of that. A lot. Every Disney movie-style minute of it. I admit it. There. Happy now?

For years, when I thought that I had some desire and, perhaps, need to write, before I went into long slumps of inactivity, I thought that the only things I would write would be intentionally stark, Kafkaesque, existential pieces filled with worldly absurdity, personal reflection, spiritual longing, raw honesty and incessant, unfailing questioning. I haven't given up on those stories. I haven't given up my intent to write them, even though years have passed and I have grown lazy and ridiculous. I have no intention of giving them up. In fact the one that means the most to me, the one that means more than all the others, is currently on my mind and I'm considering taking a break from the "fun/commercial" series and sitting down and getting the thing written in a complete rough draft as fast as I possibly can, after years of unfinished, failed drafts. I hope I do it; I hope I don't get discouraged, distracted, overcome with depression due to fear that I'll die before finishing it, or overcome with depression due to fear that I'll die if I do finish it. I hope I finally get it written.

I'll tell you something, though. Those "serious" stories still mean the most to me, but the "fun" stories mean something to. It is, I think, about balance. If I worked on only one or the other and never gave the other any thought, I'd probably lose my mind. It is great to be an artist, to take yourself seriously, to write things that are meaningful, that mean a lot to you, that preserve the ideas for which you want to live and die. But it's great too to relax sometimes, to take time off, to not take yourself so seriously, to have some fun, to work with friends on the things that give you pleasure and that make you happy, to get that Traveling Wilburys vibe if you can, to do favors for friends and help them on their own creative projects, to not worry so much, to take it easy and just do what you really like to do and (assuming it isn't illegal or doesn't violate the precepts of various systems of morality) not feel guilty about it.

I've learned to forgive myself over time for something I don't think requires forgiveness from anyone anyway. I've learned to embrace the talking animals without giving up the work that feels the most meaningful to me. I've learned to create things that I like regardless of how anyone else reacts to them or how bizarre anyone else finds them. I've learned to have fun and do what I feel I need to do.

Everything in moderation, after all, everything in balance. All work and no play make Leo a dull boy. I speak without authority. I'm in no position to give anyone any advice, really. But if I was going to give general advice to artistic and creative types, I suppose the stuff I just said would be it.

A few years ago I used to make short videos with friends. I look and act like a goof in all of them, but I've learned not to let myself feel embarrassed (well, not TOO much) but to just enjoy the memories of projects like that, without pretension, without any goals except the joy of creating and collaboration. If you've got it, cherish it, kids.

That's all I've got to say for now, but I hope you'll stick around for the rest of my entries on "Charles Hardin Hussalonia."

Who am I kidding? Of course you will! You love to hear me ramble on incessantly from topic to unrelated topic! Go ahead, say you're gonna quit checking in.

That'll be the day!

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